A collaboration by two beer firms to promote local brews has won the support of The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). The Green Ayre pub on Lancaster’s North Road is hosting beers brewed by Bryson’s of Morecambe in a two-week festival.
The initiative, which came from the management of the Green Ayre, part of the national Wetherspoon chain, is in response to the popularity of the local brewer’s beers with pub regulars.
Green Ayre manager Stuart Blackburn, said: “Though we’re part of a big organisation we want to show our support for real ale brewed locally. Showcasing Bryson’s excellent products was an obvious choice.”
Founder of Bryson’s (now part of Morecambe Bay Wines) and brewer,George Palmer, said “This is a great example of co-operation in the interests of local business. And personally I’m delighted to see the full range of our beers on the bar at one time.”
The local CAMRA branch is particularly enthusiastic about the event, praising the range and quality of the beers on offer. “This festival is pretty close to beer heaven for lovers of cask conditioned ale,” said press officer Julian Holt. “There are five distinctive beers available — the whole of the current Bryson’s portfolio, and everything we tried was on good form. Congratulations to the Green Ayre for this imaginative initiative.”
A full tasting survey was not undertaken when CAMRA members attended the festival on 19.05.08 due to limited time (earlier there had been the Pub of the Season presentation at The White Cross) and the fact that a pub quiz was taking place in The Green Ayre at the time. Normally tasting notes would have been taken, but this did not happen on this occasion.
The full Bryson's portfolio was represented:
- Union Flag 3.9 abv
- Patrick's Porter 5.0
- Lancashire Bitter 3.8
- Westmorland Bitter 3.6
- Hurricane 4.1
- Shifting Sands 3.8
Using the CAMRA national beer scoring system (0 = undrinkable, 1 = poor, 2 =average, 3 = good, 4 = very good, 5 = excellent) the following scores were awarded:
- Lancashire Bitter: 3.5
- Westmorland Bitter: 4
- Shifting Sands: 3.8
- Patrick's Porter: 5
The obvious star of the evening was the porter, which received a unanimous top score. As the result suggests, this was judged to be outstandingly good. According to the wording of CAMRA's scoring criteria a beer awarded this mark is “probably the best you are ever likely to find,” — indeed a tribute to George Palmer's brewing expertise.
The other beers were clearly on form too, each having a well defined identity and that succulent, fresh taste that always accompanies beers served in optimum condition. The two “county” bitters in particular also had the characteristic “Marstons' Pedigree” nose we have become accustomed to with George Palmer’s beers (not so much a “Burton snatch” as a “Bryson's snatch”?), i.e. a generous sulphuriness from the gyspum in the brewing liquor.
As regards presentation, manager Stuart Blackburn and staff at The Green Ayre have done a good job in promoting the festival brews, with branded clothes for the staff, a list of the beers (with the abv of each) prominently displayed, and the handpumps, with their eye-catching pump clips, grouped in a line on the bar. Stuart and the team are to be congratulated on their commitment to serving real ales in good condition and on this independent initiative which showcases one of our premier local products.